Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Book Review: The Conductors

The Conductors 
by Nicole Glover
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really well written for a debut novel. Let's jump right into the details today:

Our characters are adults whom are in committed relationships. No weird love triangles, first time love, or overdone romance. It's so rare to have a married couple (whom we didn't see meet one another at first) be the focus of a first book in a series. I love how their relationship grows and changes over the course of the book. As someone in a relationship of 13+ years their interactions, nuances, and treatment of one another felt very genuine. It's relaxed, but caring; and very understanding at the end of the day, much like my own. This gave it a nice real feeling which is something I always appreciate given how many over-the-top and ridiculous love stories there are out there.

Magical Systems
The two magic systems in The Conductors are unique and interesting (although I wish we had learned more about how they work). I loved the use of the constellations as our characters 'good' magic (if you will). I do wish I understood more about the sorcery or 'bad' magic as I am still not quite certain what makes it less desirable or why it lends itself to evil. Regardless, it didn't take away from the overall story, nor did it seem a big deal to not have this context. I just like knowing the intricacies of how an author has imagined complex magical systems and uses.

The Setting
Set shortly after the USA abolished slavery The Conductors is interesting as it demonstrates how unfair the country continued to be. Without a doubt (look at today to see proof) the sudden freedom people experienced did not necessarily improve their lives. Although it gave them a fighting chance; as we all know, change is much, much slower to truly come around. And I would think it clear that the world has still not achieved equality between races, cultures, religions, etc. Sad as that may be.
I was intrigued to see how scattered so many families and friends were at that time. This is something I had not really thought about very much before. The idea that you could be married to someone and your 'owner' sells them off to someone else is not only heartbreaking but unduly cruel. No person should be a commodity to be benefited from as someone else sees fit.

The Underground Railroad
I loved the snippets and little stories told of the Underground Railroad. I actually wish the whole book was written about our two main characters and their time as Conductors! With any luck more of these events are also told in past tense in book 2 of this series. This is a great introduction to what was being done, and the risks people took to save themselves and others around them. However I would say that Nicole Glover barely scratches the surface of what she could likely write about when it comes to the Conductors and their challenges, successes, and failures as they led people to freedom.

The Plot
The murder mystery was intriguing enough. I'm not really into murder mysteries; so I was far more engaged by the relationships, people, setting, and magical infusion in the novel. Ironically the plot of the story is the murders and their mystery; and yet it’s the part I cared about the least. It comes together fine, I was neither blind-sided, nor did the ending feel cheap; so for me that is a positive (if not resounding) approval of the main story.

I would definitely recommend this as a great (fun at times) read. If you are looking for details about the function of the Underground Railroad, it's Conductors, or in-depth look at the circumstances of the slaves I would say this is not really for you. Certainly the abolition of slavery is important here; but I didn't feel like I learned anything new or gained any greater introspective from what I had prior to reading The Conductors. All that said I quite enjoyed this book and will certainly check out the second one; and anything future Nicole Glover reads.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Book Review: The Light After the War

The Light After the War 
by Anita Abriel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Having read one of Anita Abriel's other WWII books where most everyone/everything is fictional I had hoped that The Light After the War would have what Lana's War was missing; emotional depth. The Light After the War is Abriel's mother's story. Almost everything that happens in it happened in real life. And while it's a wild story of survival against all odds I still felt like it lacked the real emotional depth I've come to see in other historical novels.

Between the characters not being very well developed (which is weird as Abriel knew aa few of them personally, like her Mother) and the descriptions missing something; I just didn't come away from this novel with any sort of great emotional response; be it sad, happy, or otherwise. Everything in it is just fine. There's nothing inherently wrong with the novel; but it just lacks some sort of authenticity for me. Which is ironic given it's almost entirely based on a true story. At the end of the day I just wished for more. If you want to read a WWII book with a relatively happy ending then this is for you. The details of the war are mostly left out. The large plot points (who lives, who dies and how they die) are all said; but not described in any sort of detail that (at least for me) evicts a strong emotional response. 

If you want a "light" WWII historical novelization this might be for you. However if you are hoping for the intensity of The Tattoo of Auschwitz then I recommend passing on this one and reading one of the other thousands of WWII novels out there today.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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